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Is Your Child's ADHD Actually Autism?

Autism diagnosis is delayed by 3 years in children diagnosed with ADHD.

Children diagnosed with ADHD first were 30 times more likely to receive their autism disorder after the age of six, than those with just autism.

Austism spectrum disorder (ASD) that goes unrecognised and untreated mostly until a child is six might negatively affect their long-term prognosis.

It is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. It includes Asperger syndrome and childhood autism.

The symptoms of autism in young children, including trouble with social communication and repetitive behaviours may not manifest themselves during routine visits to check if a child is developing properly.

In such cases, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in a child with ASD may predispose a clinician to diagnose ADHD. Although ASD can be reliably diagnosed in children as young as two years, the median age at diagnosis remains older than four years. Nearly 40 per cent of ASD children with special healthcare needs are not diagnosed with ASD until they are six or older.

We can see that a diagnosis of ADHD before ASD would delay the ASD diagnosis, compared with children who were diagnosed with the two conditions at the same time, or with ADHD after being diagnosed with ASD.

Many healthcare providers and parents are not aware that there is a high degree of overlap between the symptoms of both disorders.

Shahriar Shahzeidi, M.D. FAAP, FCCP, FAASM
Medical Director
Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians
Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
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• National Sleep Foundation - Website
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